A large independent tech support company has been accused of fraud – forcing its customers into doing things they did not need to do – for their financial gain. It was also accused of falsely stating its affiliation with Microsoft, Apple and HP.
According to a report by the BBC, the firm in question is the Indian firm iYogi, based in India and employing more than 5,000 people.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson said the company used scare tactics and fraud, and that it has violated Washington's consumer protection and computer spyware laws.
He is seeking $2,000 (£1,340) in civil penalties for each violation of the Consumer Protection Act and $100,000 per violation for the Computer Spyware Act.
Attorney General's Office (AGO) alleged that iYogi did the following:
- Associated itself with major tech firms in online ads
- If it gained remote access to a consumer's computer, it would call harmles files dangerous and harmful, encouraging consumers to buy its diagnostics software
- Claimed there was malware or other harmful code in the computer when there was none
- Ordered unnecessary tech support plans, often costing more than £90 a year
- Attempted to sell consumers anti-virus even though they already had one
- Offered to update the PC to Windows 10 for £53, even though the update is free
The firm has denied the allegations, describing them as "false" and "baseless".
"While we are yet to receive the complaint through formal channels, based on our assessment of media reports we would like to firmly state that the allegations are false or baseless," said iYogi's co-founder Vishal Dhar in a statement to the BBC.
"We recognise that tech support frauds are a real issue in the US and, as a responsible industry leader, we have been working with authorities... to counter the issue."
He said that his firm would "do what is necessary" to see the case the case through "to its rightful end".